A Luxury Grand Tour of India
Explore India from north to south, taking in Kerala, Mumbai, Varanasi, Delhi, Jaipur and Udaipur
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- A private guide accompanying you from arrival to departure
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Private transfers and domestic flights
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
From the grand palaces of Rajasthan to the lush backwaters of Kerala, this 15-night adventure is India at its very best. In a country this size, landscapes and cultures change in the blink of an eye and you’ll get to explore this rich tapestry, accompanied the whole way by your very own expert guide.
Your journey begins in the southern state of Kerala, whose palm-fringed beaches and tranquil waterways have earned it the moniker, God’s Own Country. You’ll spend a day cruising along the backwaters on a houseboat, navigating your way through the emerald labyrinth past water lilies, rice paddies and coconut groves. Southern India is known for its wonderfully fresh cuisine and you’ll learn how to get the delicate blend of spices just right in a hands-on cooking class at a local farm.
The next stop is the colonial town of Fort Cochin. Having been ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British it has a distinctly European feel to it with elegant churches and colourful cottages. It is also known for its iconic Chinese fishing nets that line the waterfront; visit in the evening and admire these intricate contraptions silhouetted against the pink and orange sky. A short flight will then bring you to the heaving metropolis that is Mumbai.
The City of Dreams is the epitome of modern India and privately guided tours let you really get under its skin. Join the early rising Mumbaikers with a sunrise tour that lets you witness the city waking up, then see the dabbawalas in action as they deliver thousands of tiffin lunch boxes across Mumbai. Varanasi is India’s spiritual capital and here you’ll enjoy morning and evening boat rides along the sacred River Ganges before heading to Delhi for the next part of your adventure.
Explore Old and New Delhi and enjoy the buzz of life in the capital while visiting some of its most iconic sites. From here you’ll venture on to Agra, visiting the Taj Mahal at both sunset and sunrise when it is at its most atmospheric, the marble domes glowing golden and rose in the soft light. The colourful city of Jaipur is a great place to soak up the atmosphere of one of Rajasthan’s most vibrant hubs and you’ll discover its unique character with private tours of the City Palace and bustling bazaars as well as the magnificent Amber Fort nearby.
A short flight brings you to Udaipur where you’ll spend two nights exploring one of India’s most romantic cities, enjoying a sunset boat cruise around Lake Pichola on your last night before making your way to Delhi for your international flight home.
Example Trip Itinerary
The Kerala backwaters
Airport assistance at Cochin Airport
Private transfer to your hotel in the Kerala backwaters with guide
Accommodation in The Kerala backwaters
- Private two bedroom villa
- Swimming pool
- Expansive lakeside gardens
- Wi-Fi throughout the property
Sat on a little peninsula on the western banks of Lake Vembanad, Vismaya is a historic timber house that dates back over three centuries. Painstaking restored with contemporary luxuries subtly introduced, it is now an exclusive use villa with two bedrooms, a double and a twin, each air conditioned with en suite bathrooms. The property is surrounded by typically lush Keralan gardens and features an expansive granite swimming pool and peaceful coconut grove with hammocks to soak up serene views across the lake. Meals – with freshly caught fish bought straight from local fishermen – can be served wherever takes your fancy, be it out on the veranda, in the lounge, poolside or in the gazebo. From the villa’s private jetty embark on meandering boat tours of the backwaters, or borrow bicycles to explore the surrounding countryside. Village walks can also be arranged as can visits to nearby temples, churches and Alleppey town.
- 30 villas with private pools
- Ayurveda spa
- Two restaurants
On the shores of the Arabian Sea and close to the famed backwaters of Alleppey, this verdant resort is beautifully placed to explore the best of Kerala. There are 30 villas set in the sprawling gardens, each a luxurious blend of modern and traditional Keralan design with private pools, lavish bathrooms and walk-in dressing rooms. A major draw here is the stunning Ayurveda spa which offers a huge range of treatments and tailored wellness programs using age old practices, with a focus on rejuvenation, stress management and detoxing combined with personalised Ayurveda diets. For those seeking to explore, take bicycle rides around local villages for a glimpse into rural lifestyles in this beautiful corner of India, discover the Jewish and colonial history of the region on historical excursions, explore sacred temples or visit the nearby Kumarakom bird sanctuary. There are also daily yoga sessions, the peaceful Marari beach and the Carnoustie’s own wonderful house boat for private lunch and evening cruises among the backwaters. Making the most of the surrounding water and its bounty, the Chimaera restaurant serves up the freshest seafood while Ida has something for everyone. Being a resort dedicated to body and mind, there’s no alcohol available.
- Six villas
- Thatched pavilion
- Dining room
Sat on a beautiful farm island on land reclaimed from the backwaters of Lake Vambanad, is Philipkutty’s Farm. A family home where the emphasis is on welcoming people into the fold, a stay here is to experience Keralan hospitality at its finest. Each of the six spacious villas are named after local plants, trees and birds and look out over the peaceful backwaters. Decor is simple but homely with tiled floors, wooden ceilings and antique furniture. Windows and doors flood the villas with natural light and a verandah is the perfect spot from which to sit back and watch life on the river. A thatched pavilion on stilts overlooks the farm and is where communal meals are served. As a working farm, there is plenty of local produce and delicious meals are made using coconuts, vegetables, fruit and spices grown in the garden and freshly caught fish. Take a walk through the plantations, making friends with the hens, duck and geese that call the farm home. The family residence is set apart from the villas to ensure total privacy, but they are always happy to chat to guests. The lush, green surroundings provide the perfect haven in which to simply relax and unwind but there are also cooking classes, sunset cruises and outdoor activities for those who wish to explore the beautiful Keralan backwaters.
- 59 en suite villas
- Seafood bar
- Tea lounge
- Infinity pool
- Fitness centre
Surrounded by paddy fields and mangroves and nestled on the banks of Lake Vembanad, Kumarakom Lake Resort is a collection of villas that seamlessly blend traditional charm with modern luxury. Each of the villas have been reconstructed the traditional homesteads of Keralan villages, many of them lovingly reassembled from the original materials. High ceilings, tiled floors and huge windows keep the villas cool and flood them with natural light while open-air bathrooms . Some come with private plunge pools and Jacuzzis while others sit along a meandering 250m pool that weaves its way through the resort. The eight-sided Ettukettu restaurant was originally commissioned by King Marthanda Varma as a gift to his favourite martial arts tutor, and has been dismantled and restored piece by piece in its new location at the hotel. Being in the heart of Kerala’s backwaters means fresh fish is in abundance at the seafood bar, which is one of the best places to watch the sunset. There is also a traditional tea shop set among the verdant gardens. An infinity pool looks out over the shimmering lake and there is an Ayurvedic spa for when you want to relax and unwind. For those who want to explore, there are guided walks and bikes to hire as well as boat cruises and fishing trips.
With the Western Ghats towering to the east and the Arabian Sea flowing out from the west, Kerala is one of India's most verdant and beautiful states. Crisscrossing this green lung are the backwaters that snake their way through towns and villages. Teeming with aquatic life and providing an invaluable resource to all who sit on their banks, these waterways have helped create an impossibly lush pocket of India.
Kerala is affectionately known as God's Own Country, and as you glide along the network of lakes, rivers and canals that make up the backwaters, it's easy to see why. A houseboat cruise is a great way to explore rural India and you'll pass locals washing, fishing and bathing while enjoying the shade of the lush green surroundings. You'll transfer to a smaller canoe to explore the very narrow canals.
Philipkutty's Farm is a working farm and one of just a few that exist below the level of the lake as the land was reclaimed from the backwaters of Lake Vambanad. You'll be shown around the farm where they use organic and sustainable methods to grow coconut, spices and bananas and fish for giant prawns and scampi in the canals. Every pocket of India has its own cuisine and you'll learn how to cook typical Keralan dishes which are well known for their fresh, punchy flavours.
Private transfer to your hotel in Fort Cochin with guide
Accommodation in Fort Cochin
- 22 rooms
- Billiards table
- Swimming pool
- Tea lounge
- Ayurvedic massage room
Over a century ago, Geo Brunton and Sons was one of the most respected shipbuilding companies in Cochin. Sat on the harbour and a proud reminder of this prestigious past, is Bruntons Boatyard, a beautiful boutique hotel full of character. The hotel has been lovingly restored using the same brick, lime and terracotta building materials to ensure it keeps its Victorian charm. On arrival you will immediately be transported back to colonial India thanks to the arched wooden ceilings, tiled floors and traditional punkah fans gently whirring overhead. The walls are adorned with photos and prints of the old boatyard and Dutch maritime maps. All of the hotel’s 22 rooms look out over the sea where every kind of vessel from small fishing boats to trade boats and cruise ships trace their way across the water. Keep you eyes peeled for the pods of dolphins that weave their way in and out of the waterway. Four poster beds and antique wooden furniture give the rooms plenty of character and some come with balconies from which you can sit and watch the world go by. Fort Cochin is a melting pot of cultures and this is reflected in its cuisine, every dish on the menu representing one of the many communities that have called this beautiful town home. A rich mix of Indian, Portuguese, British, Dutch, Arabian and Jewish cuisine makes dining here a real treat and with the Chinese fishing nets just around the corner, seafood is a specialty. For afternoon refreshment enjoy a cup of tea in the tea lounge and come evening the Armoury Bar is the perfect place to sip on a expertly mixed cocktail or beer and enjoy a game of billiards. The hotel’s garden is a calm, green refuge and the outdoor pool provides a refreshing break from the Kerelan sun. There is also an Ayurvedic massage centre for those moments when you simply want to drift away.
- 13 rooms
- Swimming pool
- Open-air terrace
- Lush gardens
In the heart of beautiful Fort Cochin is the Old Harbour Hotel, whose Dutch and Portuguese influences are in keeping with the colonial charm of the town. The 300-year-old building, once the residence for employees of an English tea broking firm, has been lovingly restored with special care taken to preserve its original features. With just 13 rooms, the hotel has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Its decor is simple yet elegant with a mix of antique furniture and pieces of art from the owner’s own collection. Rooms are named after the old streets of Fort Cochin and feature high ceilings, wooden or tiled floors and windows that look out over the courtyard or the iconic Chinese fishing nets. There are also garden cottages with open-air showers, a verandah and private pond. The lush green garden is an oasis of calm; relax while listening to the breeze rush through the trees and the tinkle of the fountain, or cool off in the refreshing water of the swimming pool. With a large open-air terrace, Ayurvedic spa and daily yoga sessions it’s hard not to feel completely serene during your stay here. The hotel’s proximity to the famed Chinese fishing nets means seafood here is always plentiful and fresh. Every evening there is a barbecue on which to cook the catch of the day as well as a menu of Indian classics made using organically grown vegetables.
Nestled on the north west tip of Cochin’s peninsula, Fort Cochin is a quaint coastal region with strong links to its colonial history. Having been under the rule of the Portuguese, Dutch and British, the town has a distinctly European feel, its narrow streets lined with cottages and bungalows. Colonial relics are scattered throughout Fort Cochin, from the remains of Fort Immanuel and St. Francis church, both built by the Portuguese, to the Dutch cemetery.
Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure, then in the late afternoon take a walk with your guide through the backstreets of Fort Cochin, ending at the iconic Chinese fishing nets to watch the sunset.
Today you’ll explore Cochin’s Heritage Zone, whose architecture reflects the many foreign rulers that came to settle in the area. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to set foot on Cochin’s soil and they built the St Francis Church in 1503, where explorer Vasco Da Gama was buried before his body was returned to Portugal. You’ll also visit the Santa Cruz Cathedral with its impressive muralled ceiling and wander the narrow streets lined with Dutch and British buildings before ending at the Chinese fishing nets. You will also visit the Dutch Palace and the synagogue in Mattancherry. There will be time to wander through its winding streets, past antique shops and spice bazaars should you wish to purchase souvenirs.
Kathakali is a classical dance form popular in Kerala. Its name translates as ‘story play’ and the dances present themes derived from mythology and legend. Kathakali is well known for its elaborate costumes and heavy make-up and if you arrive early you can see the performers getting ready.
Explore the areas of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry by bicycle, riding down side streets to get an insight into local life. You’ll cycle past the Chinese fishing nets, dhobi ghats (open air laundries), temples, churches, mosques and the beach. Continue past spice warehouses, the air rich with the smell of dried ginger, cardamom and pepper. This area is very diverse and home to a variety of communities, each with their own dress and language. You’ll cycle for approximately 8km at a very relaxed pace, with plenty of stops for your guide to point out interesting sights along the route.
Private transfer to Cochin airport with guide
Flight from Cochin - Mumabi
Private transfer to your hotel in Mumbai with guide
Accommodation in Mumbai
- 287 rooms and suites
- Two restaurants
- Wine library
- Fitness centre
- Outdoor pool
Marine Drive is a sweeping crescent in the south of Mumbai that follows the curve of the bay. It is also known as the Queen’s Necklace thanks to the string of golden lights that twinkle like gems in the evening. The Oberoi Mumbai is a jewel of a hotel located on the Drive with spectacular views across the water. The hotel is centred around the lobby, a bright and airy space tiled in white marble and featuring a black granite water feature. A huge skylight and floor-to-ceiling windows flood this space with natural light and at its centre is a stylish red piano. Rooms come with large windows, through which guests can gaze out across the water and Marine Drive. Beautifully furnished with silk armchairs, mother of pearl dressing tables and walls adorned with antique lithographs, rooms and suites have plenty of style and all the special touches you’d expect from a luxury hotel. When it comes to dining, you’re spoilt for choice. Opt for contemporary Indian in the golden-hued Ziya restaurant, or opt for Italian, Japanese or pan-Asian cuisine. If you’re simply after an expertly mixed cocktail or a fine single malt, then the Eau Bar is your port of call. It even features a 500 glass tube installation to ensure the perfect acoustics. When you want to relax, take a dip in the refreshing waters of the outdoor pool or indulge in a spa treatment that blends ancient knowledge and modern science.
- 560 rooms and suites
- Four restaurants
- Sea Lounge and Harbour Bar
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Spa and fitness centre
Since its opening in 1903, The Taj Mahal Palace has been one of Mumbai’s most iconic landmarks. An architectural gem, the hotel blends plenty of old-world charm with all the comforts of a modern luxury hotel. Its location is hard to beat, perched on the water and overlooking the majestic Gateway of India monument, built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. The hotel’s 560 rooms are spread across the Palace and the Tower wing and come with spectacular views of the city, the Arabian Sea or the Gateway itself. Italian marble bathrooms add another element of luxury. The hotel itself has plenty of character with vaulted ceilings, hand-woven silk carpets, crystal chandeliers and an impressive art collection. There are four restaurants specialising in Japanese, Chinese, contemporary Indian and eastern Mediterranean cuisine. There is also a patisserie that serves a selection of mouthwatering cakes. The Sea Lounge is full of colonial charm and is famous for its afternoon tea which can be enjoyed while enjoying live piano music. There is also the Harbour Bar with a fantastic selection of cocktails and light tapas, and a poolside restaurant set under a lush green canopy. The hotel is a real oasis of calm in the heart of bustling Mumbai, and for the ultimate in relaxation be sure to make use of the large outdoor pool, the fitness centre and the spa with its range of soothing treatments based on ancient Indian healing methods. One experience not to be missed while staying here is the Heritage Walk, where you’ll get an insight into the hotel’s 113-year history and be regaled with many entertaining tales from yesteryear’s guests.
The capital of Maharashtra and India’s economic powerhouse, Mumbai is a huge metropolis home to over 22 million people. A melting pot of cultures, the affectionately named City of Dreams envelops all who come in a cloud of colour and sound, its energy undeniably contagious. Mumbaikars have a real love for life, which they live at quite a pace, and the best way to enjoy this city is to simply join them.
Mumbai is a huge, bustling city but catch it in the early hours of the morning and it takes on a totally different personality. You’ll start your tour at sunrise at the grand Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus where the cogs that keep the city running are set in motion. Newspapers are sorted ready for delivery to the city and the suburbs; milk vendors cycle past with huge canisters of milk; and freshly baked bread is transported to the shops of Mumbai. You’ll arrive at Sassoon Docks in time to see the Kohli fishermen pull in with the morning catch before making your way to the colourful flower market and Crawford fruit and vegetable market, where it is estimated 3000 tonnes of produce is traded every day.
Your tour starts with a visit to Gateway of India, one of Mumbai’s most iconic landmarks. It was built in 1924 by George Wittet, whose brief was to combine the grandeur of a Roman triumphal arch with decorative motifs from Hindu and Muslim architecture. Overlooking the harbour, the Gateway was to celebrate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. Whilst it served as an arrival point for visitors from the west, it also marked the spot where the British departed India in 1947. Explore the historic Kala Ghoda area, home to a range of architectural styles from Gothic to art deco. Food stalls, cafes and galleries line the streets which also serve as a makeshift cricket pitchs for enthusiastic locals. You’ll also visit the impressive Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a huge Victorian Gothic station and a great place to people watch.
When it comes to lunch, popping out for a sandwich is just not how they do it in Mumbai. The dabbawalas are a 5,000 strong group who deliver 200,000 lunch boxes every day to offices around the city. Every morning the dabbawalas call on homes to pick up dabbas, or lunch boxes, filled with home cooked food prepared for offices workers. All the boxes look identical but a very well organised and precise system ensures they all end up at the correct desk. You'll visit Churchgate Station to see this amazing process in action.
Today you’ll visit the Mani Bhavan museum, dedicated to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi. Housed in a private residence that was used by Gandhi during his visits to Mumbai, the collection follows the key events in his life and includes some of his personal items and photographs.
Private transfer to Mumbai airport with guide
Flight from Mumbai - Varanasi
Private transfer to your hotel in Varanasi with guide
Accommodation in Varanasi
- Ten rooms and suites
- Lap pool
- Four-hole mini golf course
Set among beautiful gardens, mango orchards and marigold and jasmine fields is Nadesar Palace, a 19th-century colonial palace and once a guest house for the officials of the East India Company. With just ten rooms, the hotel is grand yet intimate and is a real oasis of calm. The hotel is dedicated to and named after the Goddess Nadesari, and there is a shrine to the deity in front of the building. Inside, the walls are adorned with works of art from the Maharaja’s personal collection while the rooms are filled with antique furniture and decorated in the same hues as the flowers that are offered to the holy Ganges. A lap pool is set within perfectly manicured gardens and for those looking for ultimate relaxation, the spa offers a range of treatments inspired by India’s ancient healing techniques. Once you’ve built your energy reserves back up, take to the mini four-hole golf course. One of the joys of travelling to India is sampling the food. The restaurant, which harks back to the bygone era of the Raj, serves traditional Indian cuisine alongside more international dishes. Private dining experiences are available to make your stay extra special, including a poolside Indian barbecue that is cooked in front of you while you enjoy the mesmerising music of sitar and tabla players.
- 32 rooms
- Tea and coffee lounge
- Roof terrace
Set on the banks of the holy River Ganges on one of Varanasi’s 87 ghats is Brijrama Palace, an opulent hotel that is perfect for those that want to be close to the heart and soul of this deeply spiritual city. Built in the 18th century by the Royal House of Nagpur, the palace has been lovingly restored. Murals, hand-painted ceilings and beautiful carvings revealed during the restoration have brought it back to life, ensuring the building is in keeping with this most atmospheric of cities. The hotel is approached by boat, immediately giving you the sense you are entering somewhere special. The central courtyard is filled with plants and sculptures and surrounded by a series of ornate pillars and arches cut from sandstone. Barnasi silk and gold leaf is used throughout the hotel and rooms are furnished with wooden four poster beds and beautiful Indian fabrics. You’re ideally situated to explore the city, a stone’s throw from Dasashwamedh Ghat where the evening Ganga Aarti ceremony takes place. As people flock with their offerings, the river becomes a blanket of twinkling lights with oil lamps and flowers carried along the water. The restaurant serves delicious vegetarian cuisine while tea, freshly ground coffee and traditional thandai can be enjoyed outdoors. In the evening there is live classical music in the lounge. There are few places on earth quite like Varanasi, so make sure you set aside some time to head to the rooftop and soak up its incredible and unique atmosphere.
An ancient settlement on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi is India’s spiritual capital and important among numerous faiths. Varanasi’s 84 ghats - stone embankments that step down into the river- are its most iconic sight. Most are crowded with pilgrims performing ritual ablutions in the river waters while a few are used solely for cremation. Sublime and sometimes shocking to visitors, the whole experience is utterly unforgettable.
The rest of city is home to some 23,000 temples, the sandstone Ramnagar Fort and numerous centres of education, philosophy, music and art. Small-scale industries and household production employ most of Varanasi’s residents and its winding alleyways are one of the best places to find fine silks, carpets and crafts.
Enjoy an evening boat ride along the River Ganges, the most sacred river in Hinduism. As you drift along the water you'll witness life on the riverbanks as people come to bathe and offer worship. You'll also experience the evening prayer ceremony and float your own lamps down the river.
This morning you will be taken for a boat ride on the River Ganges. After the boat ride you will meet a local expert on the ghats who will lead you on a private walking tour in the old city. On this walk you will see the back alleys, old havelis, temples, labyrinth of streets, street vendors and pilgrims that line banks of the Ganges.
Private transfer to Varanasi airport with guide
Flight from Varanasi - Delhi
Private transfer to your hotel in Delhi with guide
Accommodation in Delhi
- 40 rooms
- Two restaurants
- Cigar lounge
- Outdoor pool
- Tennis and squash courts
With its clean lines, crisp decor and modern take on Moghul architecture, The Lodhi is a cool and contemporary hotel in the heart of New Delhi. Despite being set within seven acres of grounds, the hotel has just 40 rooms giving it an intimate and exlusive feel. Rooms are elegantly styled in shades of dusky blue, grey and green and come with private balconies and plunge pools. Huge glass windows offer views out across Humayun’s Tomb and the Lodhi Gardens, from which the hotel takes its name. Sophisticated design touches prevail thoughout, from the light installations and sculptures to the gallery space in the foyer showcasing the work of contemporary Indian artists. The hotel’s restaurant, On the Waterfront, has a real buzz about it, with the ground floor overlooking a reflection pool and a glass pavillion for private parties. The Elan focuses on India’s diverse culinary traditions, and here you can same local delicacies from the north to the south. The library and cigar lounge are peaceful retreats in which to escape with a good book, while for those wanting to stretch their legs there is a 50m lap pool, three tennis courts, squash courts and a gym. Delhi Golf Club is also located opposite the hotel. After a day of sightseeing and exploring the city, relax in the tranquil spa which offers a range of traditional Indian treatments and therapies.
- 190 rooms and 43 suites
- Four restaurants
- Two bars
- Tea lounge
- Outdoor swimming pool
A driveway lined with tall palm trees leads to the grand white facade of The Imperial, one of Delhi’s most iconic hotels. Harking back to the days of the Raj, The Imperial is filled with old-world charm, its fascinating history a permanent presence. The opulence of colonial India is felt from the moment you enter; the high ceilings, crystal chandeliers and artwork from the 18th and 19th centuries giving a sense of grandeur. Rooms are beautifully styled with antique furniture, marble floors covered in Indian rugs, and photographs of iconic Indian landmarks and events on the walls. When the hotel opened its doors in the 30s, it became a meeting point for figures including Nehru, Ghandi, Jinnah and Lord Mountbatton who came to discuss the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. Photographs of the various battalions during the British Raj adorn the walls and the 1911 Restaurant is a celebration of the year Delhi became the new capital of India. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to eating and drinking, with four restaurants offering south east Asian, gourmet Indian and European cuisine. There is also a pastry shop and a tea lounge with a glass domed ceiling and tinkling fountain and the hotel’s two bars are some of the city’s most popular. An outdoor swimming pool is set within the verdant gardens of the hotel and there is a spa offering Ayurvedic therapies for when you want to simply drift away. Once you’ve recharged your batteries, head out and explore Delhi – you’re ideally located on Janpath, just moments from the renowned shopping district of Connaught Place and a short rickshaw ride from India Gate.
With a population of over 18 million, Delhi is an international metropolis. Perhaps daunting at first sight, a little exploring soon reveals a rich, diverse and fascinating culture. Throughout most of its history, it has served as the capital of various kingdoms and empires, captured and rebuilt time and time again. Every dynasty left its mark and as you start to explore, you’ll discover reminders and relics from this colossal game of pass the parcel.
As well as centuries worth of history to explore, Delhi is also one of the best places in India to shop, try the many different styles of food and experience the buzz of a city where its millions of inhabitants are going about their daily business. And if weaving your way in and out of the rickshaws and cyclists ever starts to get too much, turn the corner and you’ll find a tranquil garden or a quiet enclave in which to stop, gather your thoughts and recharge.
In complete contrast to the new city, the old city is a labyrinthine maze of lanes overhung by a tangled mass of electric wires. Within this chaos lies a semblance of order – each lane in this area is dedicated to a particular item, rather like a department store. There are lanes selling bangles, grocers, items used in weddings, silverware, clothes, spices and shoes. Sharing the same space are vendors with carts selling a variety of items, street side dentists, natural healers and cobblers. The old city has space for all professions. You will explore the old city in cycle rickshaws and will also walk along some of the more interesting alleys.
Explore New Delhi, an area within Delhi built as the seat of the British Indian government in the early twentieth century. Much of the design was by architect Edwins Lutyens, and thus it is referred to as Lutyens' Delhi, who invented his own order of classical architecture. There are grand buildings, such as Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly known as Viceroy’s House), as well as the Lutyens Bungalow Zone, a green area of residential buildings that has the most expensive real estate in India and possibly the world. You’ll also see Humayun's Tomb, built in 1570 as the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent.
Private transfer to Agra with guide
Agra and the Taj Mahal
Accommodation in Agra and the Taj Mahal
- 102 rooms and suites
- Two restaurants
- Fitness centre
- Outdoor swimming pool
Just 600m from the magnificent Taj Mahal, The Oberoi Amarvilas allows guests to appreciate the beauty of this iconic monument at every moment. Enjoy watching the colours of the marble change throughout the day, from its rosy glow in the morning light to the golden tint as the sun begins to set. The hotel is approached via a driveway, lined with trees and lit with flaming torches at night. As you enter, step inside a Mughal-style quadrant with an arched passageway decorated with gold leaf frescoes, and cascading fountains. Hallways leading to the rooms and suites are lined with wooden blinds with hand-printed golf motifs, the walls adorned with Mughal coins and antique Indian fabrics. The rooms themselves are full of old-world charm with hand woven rugs and intricately decorated wooden furniture. Each one offers uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal with some of the suites featuring bathtubs that look out over the monument. The Esphahan restaurant specialises in Indian food with traditional curries and fluffy breads served on burnished metal plates. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee under the gold domed ceiling of the lounge or enjoy a drink and a game of backgammon in the bar. The spa is centred around a domed marble steam room and offers a range of treatments inspired by ancient Indian rituals. There is also a fully-equipped gym that looks out over the hotel’s pristine gardens and an outdoor pool, which is partly covered so you can take refuge in the shade.
- 233 rooms and suites
- Three restaurants and two bars
- Huge Kaya Kalp spa
- Tennis courts
Just 3km (1.9 miles) from the centre of Agra and closer still to the iconic Taj Mahal, the ITC Mughal is an award-winning modern take on Mughal architecture set across 35 acres of lush gardens. 233 modern rooms and expansive suites overlook the landscaped lawns and sparkling lake waters. Guests at the ITC Mughal are spoilt for choice when it comes to cuisine with fine dining at Taj Bano, authentic northwest Indian food at Peshawri and the more informal setting of the Mughal Pavilion. A real highlight of the ITC Mughal is its Kaya Kalp spa, a vast complex dedicated to revitalising the mind, body and soul with luxuriously appointed spa suites, royal baths and a Mughal hammam. As well as exploring the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and other remnants from the Mughal Empire, there’s plenty to keep guests busy at the hotel with tennis, badminton, a nature trail and recreational lounge.
It has graced the pages of books for centuries but nothing quite prepares you for seeing the Taj Mahal for the very fist time. The ultimate symbol of eternal love, this is one of India's most memorable and emotive sights. The Taj Mahal sits on the banks of the holy Yamuna River within 42 acres of beautiful gardens. The domed mausoleum sits 52m above the river bank, surrounded by minarets on all four sides. It is flanked by a mosque and a guest house, both made from red sandstone and mirror images of each other. There is no denying that the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is one of the main reasons people visit Agra. However, it’s well worth lingering to explore the city’s magnificent fort that lies just 3km to the west.
Visiting the Taj Mahal at sunset is a truly magical experience, as the light plays on the marble of the tomb and its reflection shimmers in the water. Heartbroken after the death of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, during the birth of their 14th child, Shah Jahan set about building the world’s most beautiful monument in her honour. It took a workforce of more than 20,000 men 22 years to build, painstakingly making sure every slab of marble, precious stone and stroke of calligraphy was perfect. It is undoubtedly one of the most impressive sights on earth and the world's greatest symbol of love.
As the light changes, so too does the colour of the Taj Mahal. One of the best times to visit is in the early hours when it is bathed in the ethereal glow of the morning light.
Just a few kilometres from the Taj Mahal sits the impressive Agra Fort, where the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan was imprisoned by his son. Here you will see the art and crafting of the white marble that has made the area so famous, the Pearl Mosque and the Halls of Public and Private Audience.
En route to Jaipur, you may like to visit the deserted Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri which was built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 and abandoned after just 15 years due to scarcity of water. See the graceful buildings including the Jama Masjid, the Tomb of Salim Chishti, the Panch Mahal and other palaces.
Accommodation in Jaipur
- 71 rooms, villas and tents
- Two restaurants
- Library bar
- Oberoi Spa
- Tennis courts
Located well away from bustling Jaipur, The Oberoi Rajvilas is a sprawling fort-like retreat with some 32 acres of incredible gardens full of verdant trees, fragrant flowers and strutting peacocks. Revived local techniques were used to recreate vernacular pink lime walls, grand Mughal arches, gold leaf frescoes, high domed ceilings and magnificent crystal chandeliers, giving the whole place an unmistakably palatial feel. There are 71 rooms, luxury tents and private villas spread around the resort, many laid out in small clusters ideal for families or small groups wishing to stay near one another. A serene 18th-century Shiva temple hosts Hindu blessings, meditation and morning yoga classes and a mansion of similar vintage is now the indulgent Oberoi Spa. The resort also boasts a fully-equipped fitness suite, putting green, two floodlit tennis courts, a croquet lawn and an outdoor pool. Both restaurants have indoor and outdoor dining areas. The Surya Mahal is open throughout the year and has an extensive menu of world cuisine. Raj Mahal is open during the cooler months of October to April and serves rarely found Indian delicacies. Private dining can also be arranged.
- 14 rooms and suites
- Swimming pool
- Three restaurants and a bar
Built in 1729 as a private rural retreat for the Maharaja of Jaipur’s wife, the Rajmahal Palace has remained an opulent oasis even as the city has grown around it. Still owned by the royal family of Jaipur, in the halcyon days of the British Raj it embodied the glamour of ‘Jaipur Life’. As the preferred private residence of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II, the dashing polo player, the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, The Duke of Edinburgh, Jackie Kennedy and the Shah of Iran were entertained within its great walled gardens. Today, it has been meticulously and daringly restored by designer Adil Ahmad, with grand chandeliered rooms embellished with intricate thematic wallpapers and luxurious fabrics. With an initial 14 royal apartments, suites and palace rooms, ranging from palatial to genuinely royal – one room built specifically for Queen Elizabeth II’s state visit in 1961 – service is both personal and accomplished. Down the marble staircase, choose to lounge around the art deco pool or treat yourself at the spa. There are three dining options; the relaxed Colonnade, vibrant 51 Shades of Pink, and formal traditional dining at The Orient Occident. The Polo Bar celebrates the talents of Jaipur’s sporting tradition and afternoon tea on the lawn is a must. If you can bring yourself to venture outside the Rajmahal’s walls, you’ll find Jaipur’s famed forts, palaces and local markets just minutes away, and tailor made culinary, historical and photographic walking tours can be arranged.
The capital of Rajasthan and its largest city, Jaipur is at once the state’s commercial hub and one of its most fascinating cultural destinations. The pace of life here is fast, but take your time and in this somewhat frantic city you'll find some of India’s most majestic palaces and atmospheric relics.
Maharaja Jai Singh II, the founder of the pink city, was an avid astrologer and built five observatories around northern India. The Jantar Mantar is the
largest of the five and houses what is believed to be the world's largest sun dial. The observatory consists of 14 geometric devices for measuring time, tracking constellations and observing the orbits around the sun.
Visit the sprawling City Palace which is painted pink in keeping with the color theme of the old city. The impressive facade and interiors are a blend of predominately Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. Within the palace complex are several museums including a textile gallery exhibiting a fine selection of textiles and costumes from the royal collection. You'll also enjoy a tour also of the ceremonial rooms and private quarters which are usually off limits to the public.
Explore the Badi Chaupad and Johari bazaars in Jaipur's old city. Wandering through the maze of stalls and studios, you'll see craftspeople working on all sorts of forms of local art including zardozi embroidery, gota work, kinary, silver ornament work and precious and semi-precious stonework.
Today you'll visit a temple and partake in a short puja ceremony, where the temple priest will perform worship for you and offer blessings. You will also take a walk through Jaipur's traditional markets filled with colourful fruit and vegetable stalls. Set against the backdrop of Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob's vernacular architecture, the bustling alleyways are still where many merchant families live today.
Amber, the ancient capital of the region, still recalls its heydays in the majestic ramparts rising steeply along the contoured hillsides. It is an extremely well preserved building and during your guided tour you'll visit the Jagmandir, or Hall of Victory, with its glittering mirrors, the Jai Mahal and Temple of Kali.
Visit the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, a gem of a museum tucked away in a beautiful building among the cobbled streets of Amber. Here you can see the incredible work that goes into this traditional form of block printing on cotton and silk.
Private transfer to Jaipur airport with guide
Flight from Jaipur - Udaipur
Private transfer to your hotel in Udaipur with guide
Accommodation in Udaipur
- 86 rooms and suites
- Two restaurants and a bar
On the banks of Lake Pichola across the waters from Udaipur, The Oberoi Udaivilas stands surrounded by lush gardens and the forests of what were once royal hunting grounds. The hotel itself is a sprawling palace of ornate domes, breezy courtyards and sunlit corridors – an architectural reflection of Udaipur’s lakes and canals – with glimpses out to Pichola and verdant grounds. There are 86 rooms and suites, many of which open out onto azure private and semi-private swimming pools with views across the lake to Udaipur’s City Palace, while others look into the estate’s gardens and wildlife sanctuary – home to deer and wild boar. The style is a blend of ornate Mewar with subtle modern amenities. In addition to private pools, the suites feature their own outdoor dining pavilions. During your time here, explore Udaipur and beyond on private boat and walking tours, venture out into the Aravalli Hills to visit remote tribes and hidden temples, or relax with indulgent spa therapies and yoga sessions. Suryamahal and Chandni are all-day indoor and outdoor dining venues for multicultural cuisine, with Udaimahal the place for fine Indian dining. Unique dining experiences, such as learning to cook with the chef, lunching while cruising on the lake and intimate private dinners can also be arranged. And naturally the bar is an elegant venue for classic cocktails.
- 66 rooms and 17 suites
- Three restaurants and a bar
- Jiva Spa Boat
- Large outdoor pool
- Classic car hire
Serenely sat in the middle of Lake Pichola, the gorgeous Taj Lake Palace is among the most iconic and romantic hotels in India. Built as a pleasure palace by a young prince in 1746, it has since been tactfully restored to its former glory, its fine white marble walls glowing orange at sunrise and purple at dusk 66 rooms and 17 suites are designed to capture a different mood and period from the palace’s long history, each with stunning views across the lake to the surrounding hills and Udaipur or into the lush courtyard gardens. This spectacular setting is best enjoyed in its panoramic glory from the rooftop Bhairo restaurant. Neel Kamal is the place for authentic Indian specialities, or Jarokha if you’re after a more informal spot to eat throughout the day. Unforgettable private dining experiences – such as out on the lake aboard a 150-year-old boat – can also be arranged. During the day, find secluded spots around the palace to relax, bathe in the swimming pool, treat yourself on the Jiva Spa Boat or spend some time at handsome Amrit Sagar bar. Across the lake’s waters, explore Udaipur on city tours, heritage walks and even hire a vintage car for the day.
The scenic city of Udaipur sits surrounded on all sides by the wooded Aravalli Hills, its grand palaces reflected in serene lakes. The old city is a bustling jumble of alleys and side streets, but tranquility is never far away, be it boating on one of the lakes or a panoramic view from the hilltop Monsoon Temple. For shoppers, Udaipur’s ancient bazaars and a vibrant arts scene make it a great place to find intricate Mughal inspired miniature paintings, marble and silver craft. For those seeking some adventure, the rolling countryside outside the city can be explored on foot or horseback.
Meet your hosts for this morning, Minakshi and Mahipal Singh, at their home. First you will make a visit to the local market to learn about vegetables and spices, before a cooking lesson in the kitchen of their home. Minakshi Singh, will take you on a culinary journey, teaching you all about Indian spices and how to use them when cooking Indian dishes at home. This will be hands on session with you cooking along with her. At the end, enjoy your creations for lunch.
The City Palace, sat on the banks of Lake Pichola, is one of the architectural wonders of Rajasthan, its detailed art and workmanship a tribute to the skills of local craftspeople. A collection of towers, domes and arches, the Palace illustrates several architectural styles including Moghal and Rajput. The royal family claim to be 'surya vansh', descendents of the sun, and so the whole structure faces east and there is a stunning bejewelled image of the sun at the entrance. Inside the Palace there is an interesting collection of Rajput miniature paintings and the Crystal Gallery which houses an eccentric collection of art and furniture.
Enjoy wandering the old city with your guide, winding your way through lanes that teem with cows, elephants and people. You'll pass shops, folk art hung on the walls of houses and pretty latticed haveli windows.
Jal Sanjhvi is the art of drawing on water, a popular ritual performed at temples dedicated to Krishna where coloured powders are used to draw iconic images onto water. A full canvas takes about five hours to create, and you'll arrive in time to see the picture completed.
See Udaipur is all its shimmering glory with a private boat trip around Lake Pichola. Not only does a boat trip provide some of the best scenic views of the lake and the mountains, but it also gives you the opportunity to see some of the most important historical monuments situated along the lakeside and within the lake itself. You will get to see the majestic City Palace, lakeside havelis, Jagmandir Island Palace and The Lake Palace.
Private transfer to Udaipur airport with guide
Flight from Udaipur - Delhi
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